There is a recent study which looked at the health benefits of exercising through the week versus at weekends.
I’m particularly interested in exercising from the perspective of cognition and Dementia but there are always important discussions around the relationship with broader health issues. This is one such study.
The question asked here is whether people can get the health benefits from exercising just at weekends or else through the week. From a more practical perspective I wonder if it’s easier to maintain a habit if it’s done consistently rather than intermittently.
The four groups that the researchers investigated where
(a) Those that were inactive
(b) Those that exercised more than the threshold of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week or 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity per week but in 3 or more sessions per week
(c) Those that exercised less than the recommended limits for moderate and high intensity physical activity
d) Those that exceeded 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity in 2 sessions through the week
I don’t need to go through the details here because all the hard work of explaining it has been done really well in this NHS Choices article.
Compared to the other three groups, the inactive group had a large increase in the number of deaths from all causes. The two groups (b) and (c) had lower mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer compared to the inactive group. Group (d) had lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and all causes compared to the inactive group.
The authors identify the limitations of the study but there is some evidence here for differences in health benefits according to the frequency of exercise. There is also a challenge in the data to explain the apparent benefits of group (c) – whether this is an artefact of the methodology or will be replicated elsewhere.
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